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Thrush in Men — Symptoms, Treatment, and Prevention

Thrush in Men — Symptoms, Treatment, and Prevention

Tripment, Inc
Tripment Health Team

Thrush is a common name for Candida, a genus of yeasts best known for causing fungal infections. Populations of Candida exist all over our bodies — they are most often found in our gastrointestinal tract, and even in small amounts on our skin. Our immune system usually does a pretty good job of regulating those populations and keeping Candida under control. However, given the right circumstances, these populations can flourish, causing yeast infections, also known as thrush. While yeast infections are more common in women, thrust can also be an issue for men. 

Thrush in men

Yeast infections, including thrush, happen most frequently in warm, moist environments, such as in the mouth, under the arms, or in the genital area. The most common type of thrush for women is a vaginal yeast infection, which is similar to what thrush looks like in men — an unpleasant, itchy infection of the genitals. Thrush can be found in a man’s penis, an infection referred to genital candidiasis in men.

How can men get thrush?

Men can get thrush when the yeast that already exists on their body multiplies to an abnormally high level. Since thrush is a fungus, this happens most frequently when the yeasts encounter hot, damp environments, where they can thrive. Candidiasis in men can be caused by snug clothing that does not allow air to pass through, such as swimwear or bicycle shorts. It can even be caused by a tight foreskin, which makes it difficult to keep the area underneath clean and dry. 

Causes of thrush in men

Thrush can also be caused by antibiotics, which eliminate bacteria in the bloodstream. While antibiotics are crucial for eradicating harmful bacteria, they can also wipe out “good” bacteria. Certain probiotic bacteria, such as Lactobacillus acidophilus, keep Candida populations under control. When antibiotics disrupt probiotic populations, yeasts can flourish. 

Having diabetes also puts people at a higher risk for candidiasis. Diabetes causes spikes in your blood sugar levels. Since yeasts feed off of sugar, diabetes can create the perfect environment for thrush to thrive. 

What do the signs of thrush look like in men?

A yeast infection discharge for men is similar to what it looks like for women. Men may discover a white or yellowish discharge in their underwear. This may have a similar consistency to cottage cheese, and generally has an unpleasant, yeasty odor. 

Symptoms of thrush in men

Symptoms can vary from man to man, but they typically include one or more of the following: 

  • Pain during urination and sex
  • Pain or difficulty when pulling back the foreskin
  • Abnormal genital discharge 
  • Inflammation of the penis

Thrush in men can quickly lead to balanitis, which is the inflammation of the glans (head) of the penis. This can cause redness, burning, irritation, and itching. 

How to treat thrush in men

Treatment of thrush in men is generally quite simple. A topical cream for thrush in men is often prescribed, which can be used to alleviate thrush on the penis. However, your provider may choose to prescribe a thrush pill instead, to make sure the infection doesn’t spread throughout the body. In this case, the antifungal fluconazole is most often prescribed. It can treat thrush both inside and outside the body, and is a safe, simple treatment option. 

Foods that prevent thrush

Many foods contain the types of probiotics that combat thrush naturally. While existing thrush infections should be treated by a medical professional, including probiotics in your diet can help prevent future infections. Yogurts containing active cultures can introduce several types of healthy antibiotics to your body. Fermented foods, such as sauerkraut, kimchi, and some pickles, also contain beneficial bacteria.

If you are prone to yeast infections and do not like those types of foods, you may also consider taking probiotic supplements to help fight candidiasis. Your provider also might order you a lab test for candidiasis, to be sure the infection has cleared entirely. 

Sexual contact during thrush

It’s best to avoid sexual contact if you have a genital yeast infection. While yeast infections are not technically classified as sexually transmitted infections, they can still be transferred from one person to another. 

Complications of male candidiasis

While rare, it is possible for untreated cases of thrush to progress to invasive candidiasis. This is a serious blood infection, where the fungus not only lives in the blood, but can quickly spread throughout the body, infecting the liver, heart, brain, and other organs. It is important to seek treatment for thrush as soon as you suspect you have it, to prevent potentially life-threatening complications.

Prevention of thrush

It may not be possible to avoid thrush entirely, but there are some methods you can use to prevent overgrowth. Make sure to practice good hygiene, and wash your genitals, under your arms, and other warm, moist areas each day. After washing, dry yourself thoroughly, so the fungus does not have an inviting place to breed. 

If you suspect you might have a thrush overgrowth, you can consult a telehealth physician through Tripment Health, who can advise you on prevention methods, order you a lab test, or prescribe the necessary medication for treatment. 

FAQ

Can men get thrush from women?

While it is possible to contract yeast infections from sexual and/or intimate contact, thrush is not considered a sexually transmitted infection. The use of condoms during sex can prevent the spread of thrush. 

How long does it take to cure thrush in men?

It typically takes an antifungal medication as little as three days to eliminate an infection. However, it might take up to one week. 

Can men get thrush in the anus?

It is possible for Candida to spread to the anus, though it is uncommon. 

Can men carry thrush?

Anyone can experience an overgrowth of Candida, at any age. 

Can men get thrush from antibiotics? 

Antibiotics can kill the “good” bacteria that help keep Candida yeast populations under control. Taking probiotic supplements or eating yogurt containing active cultures can help restore “good” bacteria to your system. 


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